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Crowe v. Cartledge

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

June 4, 2014

DENNIS H. CROWE, a/k/a Dennis Harold Crowe, Jr., #303350, Petitioner,
v.
LARRY CARTLEDGE, WARDEN, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

BRISTOW MARCHANT, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner, an inmate with the South Carolina Department of Corrections, seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. The petition was filed pro se on August 29, 2013.[1]

The Respondent filed a return and motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P., on February 21, 2013. As the Petitioner is proceeding pro se, a Roseboro order was entered by the Court on February 25, 2013, advising Petitioner of the importance of a motion for summary judgment and of the necessity for him to file an adequate response. Petitioner was specifically advised that if he failed to respond adequately, the Respondent's motion may be granted, thereby ending his case. Petitioner filed a memorandum in opposition to summary judgment on March 24, 2013. This matter is now before the Court for disposition.[2]

Procedural History

Petitioner was indicted in the October 2003 term of the Oconee County Grand Jury for the murder of Roberta Flora Davis and the murder of Lester Cobb. [Indictment Nos. 03-GS-37-1154 & 03-GS-37-1155]. See Court Docket No. 28-2, pp. 1-4. Petitioner was represented by Kurt Tavernier, Esquire, and Gruber Sires, Esquire. After a trial by jury for the murder of Ms. Davis on July 2, 2004, Petitioner was convicted as charged and sentenced to forty-seven (47) years. See Court Docket No. 28-5, p. 1.[3] On November 17, 2004, the State served notice of intent to seek the death penalty in the murder of Lester Cobb, with Petitioner's prior murder conviction being noticed as an aggravating circumstance to be presented at sentencing. (R.p. 3); see Court Docket Nos. 28-3; 28-4.

The Davis murder conviction was affirmed on appeal. (R.p. 53). However, the conviction was reversed in post-conviction relief upon a finding of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, in that counsel was not prepared to try the Davis case.[4] (R.pp. 52-54); see also Court Docket No. 28-5. On July 27, 2009, after negotiations with the State, Petitioner pled guilty to two manslaughter charges and received a recommendation of a maximum sentence of 30 years from the State. (R.pp. 3-5). Petitioner was thereafter sentenced to thirty (30) years on each count of manslaughter, concurrent, as negotiated. (R.pp. 1-19). Petitioner did not appeal his plea and/or sentences.

Petitioner then filed an Application for Post Conviction Relief ("APCR") in state circuit court on December 14, 2009. Crowe v. State of South Carolina, No. 2009-CP-37-1504. (R.pp. 21-36). Petitioner raised the following issues in his APCR:

Ground One: Ineffective assistance of counsel;
Ground Two: Due Process;

Ground Three: Newly discovered evidence;

Ground Two: Prosecutorial Misconduct.

(R.pp. 23, 30-34).[5]

Petitioner was represented in his APCR by Rodney Richey, Esquire, and an evidentiary hearing was held on October 4, 2010. (R.pp. 46-85). The PCR judge denied relief at the conclusion of the hearing, stating that a written order would follow. (R.pp. 81-85). On December 15, 2010 (filed on January 6, 2011), the PCR Judge entered a written order denying Petitioner's APCR in its entirety. (R.pp. 86-94).

Petitioner appealed the denial of his APCR, and was represented in his appeal by Wanda H. Carter, Deputy Chief Appellate Defender with the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense, who raised the following issues:

Ground One: Trial counsel erred in allowing petitioner to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges because the state had insufficient proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict him on the same had he elected to be tried by jury in the cases.
Ground Two: The PCR judge erred in denying petitioner's allegation that his pleas were invalid and unconstitutional because they were conditional pleas as his jailed uncle was supposed to have been released on a medical furlough in exchange for his guilty pleas.

See Court Docket No. 28-6, p. 3.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals denied certiorari on June 11, 2013. See Crowe v. State, Order dated June 11, 2013. See Court Docket No. 28-8. The Remittitur was sent down on July 1, 2013. See ...


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